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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Towards Badrinath

Chardham Badrinath - the holiest of the shrines (Part I)
The four dhams that comprise the 'Chardham yatra' are - Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath & Badrinath. I have already covered the visit to the first three dhams which were covered by me during June, 2007 itself. As regards Badrinath, I had visited the place way back in 2001 in my Maruti 800 car, which I found to be equal to the task entrusted to it. The ideal window for visiting any of the four dhams is the first fortnight of June or last week of May. Accordingly, I had visited Badrinath during the second & third week of June in 2001.
The best part of the journey to Badrinath is the fact that the road leads right upto to the temple door with hardly ten minutes walk from the designated parking area across Alaknanda and therefore, the old and weak also can perform this leg of journey without any difficulty. The distance from Delhi to Badrinath is about 575 Kms. and should be taken up in three stages but many tend to do it at single strech or at best in two parts. But the most comfortable, if you have ample time in your handsand if you break up the journey into three parts. We started from Delhi at around 5.00 A.M. and after usual break at Cheetal Grand, Khatauli for morning b'fast reached Rishikesh at around 12.00 noon. We had made booking in the paid dharamshala of 'Baba Kali Kamli Wale', who have an elaborate network of dharamsalas all through the route to all the dhams. The facility of a double bed room with attached bath was provided @ Rs.150/- per day during 2001, which now stands revised to Rs.600/- to Rs.900/- per day as on date. The distance covered between Delhi to Rishikesh is approximately 260 Kms. Apart from this the 'Gharwal Mandal Vikas Nigam' also have a elaborate network of tourist bunglows/rest houses/hotels etc. Rishikesh has many small places around to be explored and one can go though my travelogue posted, specifically covering Rishikesh & around -
View of Rishikesh acrossRam Jhoola -
After staying overnight at Rishikesh, we started early next morning towards Rudraprayag our next stop over which is at a distance of 139 Kms. from Rishikesh. Having passed Rishikesh, the scenic beauty of the Ganges valley upwards of Rishikesh was mesmerizing and this being my first visit to Uttaranchal, I was awestruck by the natures marvel -
Ganga upstream Rishikesh -
Another view of Ganga upstream Rishikesh -
Bridge connecting village on otherside - upstream Rishikesh
Having travelled around 70 Kms. upstream of Rishikesh we reached Deoprayag, which is birth place of river Ganga, as it is known and is the confluence of rivers Bhagirathi (emnating from Kedarnath) & Alaknanda (emnating from Badrinath). As per Hindu mythology, in case one performs the water abolution for one's ancestors at Deo prayag, he quenches their eternal thirst and is not required to perform the ceremony for his ancestors during is life time. Although the climb down to Deo prayag is very steep but we made it to the base of the confluence for offering puja there -
Birds eye view of the Deoprayag -
Deoprayag - the confluence - observe muddy Alaknanda on your left & clear Bhagirathi on your right -
However, during my current visit I was totally disappointed, as the flow of mighty Bhagirathi has become a trickle now, due to the construction of dam at tehri. It was god's will that I experienced the river in its hey days, in all its' might & fury. After performing the puja we trudged back to our car and the climb was hard and ardous. Since almost four hours had lapsed between the time we left Rishikesh till we finished our Puja at Deoprayag. Fatigued & famished we headed for the nearest eating joint for having light refreshments. The next stage of the journey took us to Srinagar which is another 35 Kms. from Deoprayag and enroute we stopped at many places to pay our homage to the wonder of nature.
How green is my valley - beyond Deoprayag
The river valley at Srinagar, Gharwal
As stated above, since we were frolicking around and enjoying the imbibing the natures' spirit, stopping where ever and when ever we came across a natures' jewel, by the time we reached Srinagar it was past lunch time and we had our hearts fill at one of the many small resturants/dhabas that the lined across the road side. The place has become very congested now, as compared tomy visit in 2001. Having had our lunch we launched ourselves for the last leg for the day i.e. Rudraprayag, which is another 34 Kms. ahead of Srinagar. Rudraprayag is the confluence of rivers Mandakini (from Kedarnath) and river Alaknanda (from Badrinath).
Rudraprayag panorama - road leads to Kedarnath from opposite side -
A closer view of Rudraprayag confluence -
Close-up view of the confluence at Rudraprayag - observe clear blue water of Mandakini (flowing from Kedarnath) on upper side and muddy water of Alaknanda (flowing from Badrinath) below -
Thedinconjured up by the roaring waterat the base of the prayag is stupendous and it is difficult to communicate even after shouting aloud due theenormouscrashing soundcreated by the roaring waters. The dharmashala where we put up was just above the prayag and we imbibed the nature's gift to the hilt. After a good nights rest we again started for the final stretch of the journey to Badrinath early next morning. The road upwards of of Rudraprayag gains height quickly but the views of the river valley upstream becomes more enchanting the mesmerizing -
View of river valley Alaknanda upstream Rudraprayag - This stretch is really mesmerizing & picturesque -
Having passed Rudraprayag, our next stop over was Karnaprayag having passed though Gholtir(10 Kms. from Rudraprayag) & Gaucher (20 Kms. from Rudraprayag).Karnprayag is another confluence of Pindar Ganga (flowing from Pindari glacier) and Alaknanda at a distance of 31 Kms. from Rudraprayag. As there was some bridge construction work under progress, I could not get a very good shot of the prayag, but I got on roof top of a house nearby and shot a picture and am posting the same, as I do not have a better photograph and I beleive in the philosophy that 'something is better than nothing'.
Part view of Karnaprayag - confluence of Pindar Ganga & Alaknanda
After having some light refreshments at Karnaprayg, we pushed forward and reached Nand prayag at a distance of 22 kms. from Karnprayag and is the meeting point or confluence ofNandakini (flowing from Nanda devi) & Alaknanda.
Close up of Nandakini (flowing from Nanda Devi peak) & Alaknanda - at Nandprayag
Thereafter, passing through Chamoli, Birahi, Pipalkoti, Garur Ganga, Tangani & Helang we reached Joshimath at around 1.00 P.M. At this junction the traffic going uphill & those coming downhill from Badrinath is controlled, since the roads are very narrow and only one way traffic is permitted. This excercise is again repeated at Govindghat also, wherefrom some of thepilgrims & tourists head towards Hemkunt sahib & Valley of flowers respectively.
View of distant Vishnu prayag down below in valley from Joshimath - confluence of Dhauli ganga & Alaknanda -
View of Alaknanda from Govindghat -
Having had our lunch at Joshimath we embarked upon the final stretch of journey towards Badrinath at 2.00 P.M when the gates were thrown open to the uphill bound traffic. After traversing a distance of 20 Kms. odd we reached Govindghat and again waited there for the downhill traffic to pass. Thereafter, after negotiating a stiff climb with very adverse slope gradient, we passed through Pandukeshwar, Hanumanchatti and Deo Darshani and having traversed a distance of 28 Kms. from Govindghat finally reached the abode of lord Badrinath at around 4.30 P.M. in the evening (covering a distance of 159 Kms. from Rudraprayag). However, the sceinc beauty across this stretch was another of the natures' marvellous architecture -
Snow bound - glaciers close-up above high mountains beyond Gaurikund
(All my photographs have been shot by manual SLR camera using appropriate lenses as required - however,in certain photographs there are vertical lines which are a result of the scanning done by me.)
Next part of the travelogue shall constitute the visit to the famed shrine as well as surrounding spots - I stayed at Badrinath for three days.

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